Cyprus game to go ahead

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill
Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill

Northern Ireland’s friendly in Cyprus next week is expected to go ahead despite the bombing of a referee’s car on the island.

All first division matches in Cyprus this weekend have been cancelled but Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson is confident the international in Nicosia on Wednesday will take place.

Nelson said: “The latest information is that the incident would have nothing to do with international football and wouldn’t put the game in jeopardy.”

“However, we’re being sensible, we’re monitoring developments, we’re going to be in touch with the Cypriot FA again later today, we’re waiting for the FCO - the Foreign and Commonwealth Office - to comment on it and we’re keeping our eyes on it.”

The car of a top Cypriot official - named by the Cyprus Football Association as Leontios Trattos - was damaged by a bomb explosion on Friday morning, but no one was injured.

A friendly between Ukraine and the United States is also scheduled for Larnaca on Wednesday due to political unrest in the eastern European country.

England’s women are also due to play Italy in the Cyprus Cup in Nicosia on the same day.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill named a 22-man squad for the match, with the likes of Southampton’s Steven Davis and West Brom duo Gareth McAuley and Chris Brunt included.